The Selling Newsletter
*A free monthly newsletter of ideas to help make your selling easier*
Selling is the easiest job in the world…Just ask anyone who is NOTin sales!
My mission is to help make it easier for you to sell.
Best wishes for YOUR successful selling—Maura
“Do not say a little in many words, but a great deal in a few.” Pythagoras
As you plan for your selling, think about communicating your selling message in as few words as possible.
THE SELLING IDEAS FOR THIS MONTH
Unexpected Sales Guides
You’ve made it past phone mail jail and now you’re face to face with a prospect. The questions that you will ask will guide you as you progress to your sale. Some questions are better than others to incorporate into your sales dialogues to get orders faster.
You’re there to gather information. Contrary to what some people think, the purpose of a sales call is to ask questions to learn what your customer knows. It’s not to impress your customer with what you know (or at least not initially.) When some sales people begin the sales call by talking about their products and services they miss more than a few opportunities. They miss discovering all the needs a customer might have. The chatty salesperson might get lucky and randomly identify one customer problem as the product discussion enfolds. If a salesperson identifies only one customer problem that limits the sales options he has.
Uncovering only one problem is just like being creative and generating only one new idea. Nothing is worse than an idea if it’s the only one you’ve got. If you find just one customer need, you’ve just reduced the probability that you have a product or service that is the perfect solution for that need. And since most of us are selling more than just one product, when you learn more needs you increase the probability of selling other products.
Is there a need now? Asking the customer early in the sales call, ‘What do you want to accomplish?’ will start the customer articulating his needs. Following with ‘Why do you want to accomplish this?’ will uncover the reasons behind the need and establish if there is a need. I recently discussed sales performance issues with a client. I asked, “What would happen if you did nothing?” The answer was a big disappointment to me, but it saved a lot of my selling time. When my customer said, “The situation probably won’t get any worse” I realized there was no sense of urgency. He also realized that doing nothing was his preferred option. I was lucky to discover this earlier rather than later in the sale. If you hear this, you should find out “Why are we talking?”
How painful is it? I just spoke with a salesperson who lost a sale because as he said, “My customer didn’t have any pain.” His customer opted to stay with the current supplier. Perhaps the customer did have pain, but didn’t realize it. The customer was never asked a question where the answer would make him realize that a problem existed. The question to ask is ‘How is the current situation impacting your staff, customers, profits or sales?’ It’s your job to ask the questions that customers answer with their problems. These answers help customers see the need to make changes and to make buying decisions sooner, rather than later.
How will they know? Your customers have to specifically identify what they want to accomplish with your products or services. Your question is ‘How will you know that we’ve accomplished our work?’ The answer must be something other than “I’ll know it when I see it.” Increased productivity, better morale and other generic answers are incomplete. You can ask for specifics like ‘How will your productivity change?’ or ‘What will people do differently?’ Since you want to begin setting the stage for your price quote, ask ‘What’s this success worth to your organization?’
What do they feel about it? You may have heard that with buying decisions customers think with logic and act with emotion. Your questions have to tap into your customers’ emotions. Great questions are: ‘If we can improve skills (for example) what will it mean to you?’ or ‘What would you be proudest of at the end of the year?’ or ‘What would you like to see happen that will give you the greatest reason to be proud of your organization?’ These questions will connect with your customers’ feelings. This is the beginning of a sales relationship.
Questions are so important to sales people because they’re guideposts along the path to customers’ recognition of their problems. It’s the same path that will lead customers to make a decision to buy.
SELLING ACTION ITEM
Review your top 5 prospects. Have you asked the questions to learn from the customer’s perspective what they are thinking about relative to your products and services? If you haven’t asked, make it a point to do this during your next sales call.
I’m always looking for success stories and other tips from sales professionals. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas that have worked for you. To thank you, you’ll receive a free subscription to The Selling E-Letter™, a bi-monthly selling newsletter. ($50 value)
Here’s an insight on selling that was sent to me from a Selling Newsletter reader:
I was thinking of you yesterday as I was watching a movie called “Secondhand Lions.” In the movie is the perfect example of a great sales professional.
In the film, the favorite past time of the two uncles is to sit on their porch with a pitcher of ice tea, shotguns at the ready and wait for the inevitable door to door salesman. The salesman drives up, gets out and usually opens with a pithy line. This is met with a hail of shotgun fire. The inevitable happens and the offending salesman roars off as fast as he can. But one salesman drives up, hops out of his car waving his handkerchief and shouting “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!” The uncles smile and get interested because, as they say, “he’s been here before.” He finally gets to speak and when he does he says “I have taken the liberty of assessing your needs and I have brought with me the perfect item for you.” What he has is a trailer with a contraption for slinging clay pigeons for trap and skeet shooting. After a very quick demonstration that involves the salesman’s exceptional shooting skill, they buy the item on the spot.
I love the lessons here. 1) The sales man was not intimidated and came back 2) He listened and he evaluated the situation 3) He used the information he gathered in a creative way and 4) he fulfilled the customers need even though the customer didn’t ask for the product and didn’t have the slightest idea he needed that product.
It is a very good story and a great illustration.
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Maura Schreier-Fleming works with business and sales professionals to make it easier to sell more and be more productive at work. Her clients want to create long-term client relationships. They include Fujitsu, Fannie Mae and Dr Pepper/7UP. She has an M.S. in Textile Engineering from Georgia Tech and was Mobil Oil’s first female lubrication engineer in the U.S. With over 20 years of sales experience, she teaches the art and science of selling with a unique hands-on perspective and a great deal of real-life insight. She is the author of Real-World Selling for Out-of-this-World Results. Her business column ‘Selling Strategies’ appears in the Insurance Record magazine. You can contact her for seminars at company or trade association meetings at 972 380 0200 or info@BestatSelling.com
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*Written by Maura Schreier-Fleming, president of [email protected]
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